The RDA philosophy is to focus on removing the barriers to riding, driving and being with horses,as much as possible,so enabling people with disabilities to achieve their goals. So when a new rider starts at RDA we try and find out why they want to ride, what they would like to achieve. The story of Brenda and the team at Deeside RDA captures this spirit and has inspired us to focus on enabling adults to hack in special places.
Brenda has retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited degenerative eye disease that has left her completely blind for the past 20 years. She had never ridden before but she picked up the basics very quickly and before long was able to walk and trot on the lead rein and even ride a basic dressage test using ‘Talking Letters’. Her goal was to ride along a beach splashing through the waves!
Her riding came on in leaps and bounds and she was soon trotting unaided. One day, a small group set off for the local beach in Aberdeen with two horses, five volunteers and one Lead Coach. The weather was perfect – blue skies and a gentle breeze and the beach was deserted with miles of golden sand. They walked and trotted, riding into the waves, taking photos and making memories.
For the volunteers it was a privilege to share this experience with Brenda. RDA is a team: everyone that had side walked, led, provided weekly transport or had some part in the organisation of the group played a part in Brenda’s achievement. To see the smile on her face made it all very worthwhile.
Our focus is to build on Deeside’s approach. We plan to negotiate agreements to ride in private estates and woodlands, safely off the public road, to give riders the pleasure of hacking. To do this we need a horsebox with a suitable mounting mechanism such as a hoist or hydraulic platform, (and ideally an accessible loo!)
This would also be available to take riders to shows and lessons, initially it will be available for use in the Southern and Central region. The rides and venues being visited would each be risk assessed. Appropriate insurance and transport licences would be in place and the horses would need to be trained to be suitable for the experience…. but it should be worth it!
After all , it’s what you CAN do that counts!
Any support, suggestions for venues, and donations towards setting up this service would be appreciated